Recently I was watching ESPN and the topic came up that a lot of players mostly from BCS Schools were being investigated for taking gifts and benefits from agents that they are not allowed to take. This topic became very interesting when at SEC media days the head coach of the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide, Nick Saban, went so far as to say that agents are like pimps.
Let’s not blow everything out of proportion here. These kids are entirely responsible as well. Don’t think for one second that they haven’t been completely informed and signed numerous papers stating that under no circumstances are they allowed to take ANYTHING from an agent. Since the day I arrived on campus at the University of Nevada I sat down each and every year and filled out paperwork with the entire team for about an hour. This paper work was clearly outlined to us that when we sign it what would happen. We watched videos on what we can’t do, we signed our signature on the paper directly below each exact statement. There is absolutely no excuse for any player to think it is alright for him to take anything from an agent and think that is okay.
I understand to a certain degree what coach Saban is talking about however. I’m coming up on my senior year here at Nevada, I have already been drafted into the CFL in Canada, and I am hoping to get drafted into the NFL this next April. Agents contact these players every way they can, I’ve had facebook messages, phone calls, text messages, they’ll find out your school e-mail address and flood you with emails. I’ve even had one agent go so far as use one of his runners who knew some girl who went to school here, she got my number one day when she saw me at school, and gave it to her friend and they ended up calling me that way. From what I’ve heard I am projected to be a mid-round or later draft pick, hopefully I can improve on that during the season, but I have been contacted at last count by 43 agents. That’s a lot coming at a college senior, I don’t care who you are. Higher projected picks I am sure get a lot more calls, and a lot more agents willing to offer them certain things. They all seem to be saying the same thing as well. These agents in some aspects are similar to used car salesmen. You know honest Bob’s used car down the street? People go there and Honest Bob seems to tell you anything and everything you want to hear as long as you have cash in your pocket.
I believe that some of these agents try to negotiate deals where they hook players in the NCAA up with a substantial amount of money with the promise of being able to represent them in the future so they can get 3% of that players contract down the road. Keep in mind these are college kids, if your parents are well off, it makes things very difficult on you while you go through school. Obviously I get all my school paid for, and books and tuition, the football team feeds me quite a bit, but I get a $900 stipend and because I am Canadian I get taxed on my stipend each month, so I get a check each month for $774. I challenge any of you to try to live your entire life on that much money, I pay rent, I pay my own cell phone, my own insurance, my own gas for my car. I also have to buy enough food to feed a 325lb man. There’s not a lot of extra money floating around, I don’t come from a wealthy family and I thank my blessings everyday that I can usually call one of my 4 older siblings and they can help me out if I need money each month.
Now a lot of these players that are caught up in these situations I imagine they’ve lived most of their college career struggling the same way that most of us have. Does this make it okay for these players to breach that contract they signed to be an NCAA athlete? Absolutely not. Does this make it okay for these agents to find the loophole in the system and lure in athletes by offering them a few thousand dollars? No, it’s disgusting is what it is.
There’s no leadership involved on either side. These agents who offer gifts and benefits are dirty businessman, who are unethical and immoral. These players who accept these gifts are no better. I believe a way to curb this would be to suspend any agents NFLPA license for a minimum of 5 years to life if he is caught offering gifts or benefits to athletes. The players who get caught up in these situations generally are hurt in the long run as character concerns arise. Dropping their draft stock considerably and in the long run costing them exorbitant amounts of money.
Any player that is willing to jeopardize his whole football teams season to take a few thousand dollars or whatever it is that he is offered is unbelievably selfish. The team works too hard together, too hard to become a team, to have one player strip everything they’ve worked so hard for away from them, is something I would never want to be responsible for, nor be apart of in any aspect. . I understand why NFL teams look at these players and judge them the way they do, and they are practically blackballed from the NFL, as they should be.
So what I’m saying is that accountability needs to be looked at from both sides. The agent-player relationship needs to be one of trust, and not one where either side is willing to jeopardize the others reputation and career path to gain an advantage in their lives. Teamwork in this situation is no different from teamwork in any business interaction, there has to be benefits to each side and each side can’t be willing to risk the integrity of the other side to make the deal happen.